Press release issued by Sony:
New Large Aperture Super-Telephoto Prime Lens is World’s lightest in its class, with outstanding AF performance, innovative optical design and exceptional image quality
Sony today announced the highly anticipated FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS large aperture super-telephoto prime lens (model SEL400F28GM).
The product of extensive research and testing, Sony’s new FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS lens is the first large aperture super-telephoto prime to join the E-mount line-up. This exciting new lens produces brilliant image quality, extraordinary focusing speed and precision while also boasting the lightest weight in its class[i] and an extremely balanced design. It’s the ideal choice for professional sports, wildlife and nature photographers, and a perfect complement for Sony’s extensive line-up of high-speed E-mount bodies including α9, α7R III and more.
World’s Lightest 400mm F2.8 Prime with Ideal Balance for Monopod or Handheld Shooting
Weighing in at only 2897g, the new FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS lens provides a level of portability and handheld manoeuvrability that has never before been achieved in a lens of its class. The remarkably light weight of this lens is achieved through an innovative optical design that includes three fluorite elements, with a reduced number of elements deployed at the front of the barrel, as well as the liberal usage of durable magnesium alloy components.
Additionally, repeated field tests and evaluation by professional photographers across the world have led to a lens design that is not front-heavy, reducing moment of inertia that resists rotation by up to 50% as compared to the SAL500F40G.[ii] This ensures that quicker, more precise panning is available, whether shooting handheld or on a monopod.
Fast, Precise Autofocus
To best take advantage of the rapidly evolving shooting and focusing speeds of Sony’s latest cameras, the FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS lens features two newly developed high-speed XD (extreme dynamic) Linear Motors that drive the lens’ focus group, achieving up to a 5x improvement[iii] in moving-subject tracking performance. These motors are supported by specially developed motion algorithms to minimise lag and instability and control noise levels, resulting in exceptionally quick, accurate and quiet autofocus performance. This allows the lens to capture dynamic, fast moving athletes or wildlife with ease.
G Master Image Quality and Bokeh
A member of the Sony’s flagship G Master Series lenses, the new large aperture super-telephoto prime lens features an incredible level of image quality and detail, with outstanding contrast and resolution maintained all the way to the corners of the image. The unique optical design includes three fluorite elements that help to minimise chromatic aberration and suppress any amount of colour bleeding. The lens has also been coated with Sony’s original Nano AR coating to suppress any unwanted reflections, glare, or ghosting.
In addition to the impressive resolution, the lens features an 11-blade circular aperture mechanism that allows it to produce extremely natural and beautiful background defocus or bokeh’. Each lens is also individually tested and adjusted at manufacturing stage to achieve maximum image quality and ‘bokeh’.
The new FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS is compatible with Sony’s 1.4x and 2.0x E-mount tele-converters, producing outstanding imaging performance at extended focal lengths[iv] while maintaining fast, precise AF performance.
Durability, Reliability and Control
To withstand the harsh conditions of sporting events and wildlife photography, Sony’s new FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS is built with a durable magnesium alloy and a strong, lightweight carbon fibre hood. The lens is also dust and moisture resistant[v], and its front element is coated with fluorine to resist dirt and fingerprints.
There is also an ample amount of hard controls on the lens, including a ‘Full-Time DMF’ switch to immediately engage manual focus at any point, customisable focus hold buttons in four different locations on the lens barrel – allowing easy access of an Eye AF for example, and a focus ring that features Linear Response MF for fine, responsive manual focus. The new lens also features built-in optical stabilisation for dynamic sports action and three different ‘Mode’ settings, including a brand new Mode 3[vi] setting with an advanced algorithm that ensures easier framing when following moving subjects. The new model includes a function ring with selectable ‘Preset’ and ‘Function[vii]’ settings, further adding to the customisability, a first for any Sony lens.
The FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS includes a drop-in filter slot[viii] that accepts ø 40.5mm ND and other filter types, as well as the optional VF-DCPL1 Drop-in Circular Polarising Filter. The VF-DCPL1 filter can be rotated to achieve the desired polarisation while installed in the lens.
α9 System Software Update to Support FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS[ix]
The latest system software update (Version 3.00) for α9 (ILCE-9) provides support for the new FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS (SEL400F28GM) lens to optimise optical image stabilisation performance and enables continuous shooting with auto focus tracking even when aperture is greater than F11.
The update also provides added option to input camera serial number to the Exif data, a feature that has been strongly requested by professional sports photographers and photojournalists. Additionally, several other updates to the α9 camera have been implemented with the new firmware, including improved auto focus speed in low light conditions, enhanced continuous AF performance when tracking a moving subject, and reduced release time lag when shooting with flash.
Pricing and Availability
Built to order, the new FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS will ship in Europe in September 2018,priced at approximately £10,500. The optional Drop-in Circular Polarising Filter (model VF-DCPL1) will ship in Europe in December 2018, priced at approximately £420.
A product feature video and testimonials by Nick Didlick and Bob Martin are now available at Sony Camera Channel on YouTube, and the new sample images are also posted at the global Sony Photo Gallery
Please visit Sony.co.uk for more information: http://www.sony.co.uk/electronics/camera-lenses/sel400f28gm
[i] Compared to 400mm F2.8 lenses for 35mm full-frame format cameras, as of June 2018, Sony survey
[ii] When mounted on the α9 with VG-C3EM grip. Compared to the α99 II + SAL500F40G, Sony tests
[iii] When mounted on the α9. Compared to the SAL300F28G2 mounted on the α9 (via LA-EA3), Sony tests
[iv] Maximum aperture with the 1.4x (SEL14TC) and 2.0x (SEL20TC) tele-converters is F4 and F5.6, respectively
[v] Not guaranteed to be 100% dust and moisture proof
[vi] α9 software must be updated to the latest version to activate Optical SteadyShot MODE 3 when this lens is used with the α9. Refer to the Sony support site for camera body compatibility information
[vii] Functions can be assigned via a camera body menu. Power Focus is assigned by default. APS-C/Full Frame Select can be assigned by updating α9 software to the latest version. Refer to the Sony support site for up to-date function and camera body compatibility information
[viii] A normal filter is initially installed in the filter slot. The filter is part of the lens’s optical system, and either the normal filter or circular polarizing filter should always be in place when using the lens. Be sure that filter is installed before memorising the focus point for the preset focus function
[ix] System software update for α9 is scheduled soon. For more information, please visit Sony support site. https://www.sony.co.uk/electronics/support/e-mount-body-ilce9-series/ilce-9#downloads